Editorial: Obama endorses Stratton — no, not Dunkin — for Illinois House



News alert: Obama backs challenger in Democratic primary for state rep.

That’s news, all right, but not because America has been waiting eagerly for the president to pick a horse in the Illinois 5th House District.

When was the last time the president of the United States endorsed a candidate in a state legislative race?


“I’m Barack Obama. I’m asking you to vote for Democrat Juliana Stratton for state representative.” In the TV and radio ads, which began airing Monday, Obama praises Stratton for her work to improve the juvenile justice system and says she will “fight to get guns off our streets.”

That’s a grownup take on the race, which has mostly played out as a proxy war between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose allies are bankrolling incumbent Rep. Ken Dunkin, and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, who’s trying to oust Dunkin for breaking ranks on key votes.

Dunkin has tried to spin himself as a bipartisan statesman — and even to suggest that the president singled him out as such in a Feb. 10 speech to the General Assembly. Dunkin’s own radio ads incorporate snippets of that address and end with what is meant to sound like a presidential nod of approval: “We’ll talk later, Dunkin.” (The rest of that curt rebuke, of course, was “Sit down.”)

So yes, Obama wants you to know that Juliana Stratton will “fight for tougher penalties for violent offenders.” He also wants you to know that he did not endorse Ken Dunkin.

As it happens, the Tribune endorsed neither. We found Dunkin’s antics brash and self-serving and Stratton disappointingly timid. She chickened out of a face-to-face endorsement session with her opponent and wouldn’t even complete our candidate survey to tell voters where she stands on the issues.

So thank you, Mr. President, for helping voters sort out this troublesome race. Now, who are your picks for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District?



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